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Genuine Avatara vs. Fake Avatara
In India, every day a God is being manufactured. Sometimes even educated people think or talk of some ordinary human being to be an avatar of God. How do we know whether the claim of a person to be an avatar is true or not? The following points can help us to verify an avatar:
An Avatar should be mentioned in scriptures before He appears
Lord Krishna's appearance is mentioned in Rig Veda. He has been mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad as Devakinandana Krishna and in innumerable scriptures. Buddha's appearance was foretold in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.24). It was stated that He would appear in the city of Gaya. The names of His parents and His activities are mentioned several thousand years before His birth. The Chaitanya Upanishad portion of the Atharva Veda foretells the appearance of Lord Chaitanya thousands of years before His appearance. His place of birth, activities, and the mantra that He would propagate are all mentioned. If anyone claims to be an avatar, the first question one should ask him is, "Sir, have you been mentioned in the scriptures before your appearance? If so, which scripture?"
The Avatar is able to reveal the Cosmic Universal Form
In Kali Yuga there appear an entire host of impostors and frauds who try to pose themselves off as avatars. Knowing this Lord Krishna specifically revealed to Arjuna the Cosmic Universal Form to confirm that He was God. An advanced mystic yogi may get siddhis (mystic powers) that enable him to display to his gullible devotees the form of Krishna or Rama. Yet no yogi can display the Cosmic Universal Form. This feat can be performed only by the master of all mystics — Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus for a person to be accepted as an avatar, he should display the Cosmic Universal Form that Krishna displayed to Arjuna at Kurukshetra.
The Avatar performs extraordinary activities that cannot be imitated
By extraordinary activities one does not mean activities that can be imitated by cheap magical tricks such as producing some objects from air. Such activities can be performed by magicians or accomplished yogis who have acquired siddhis. Even faith healing is not an evidence of an avatar. These faith healers claim no divine powers. They are able to use the patient's own mind to heal his body.Some of the extraordinary activities of Lord Krishna are lifting the huge Govardhan Hill, manifesting Himself in 16108 forms with every form doing a different activity. Such extraordinary activities are impossible to imitate.
Every Avatar has a Unique Message or Mission
1.Lord Krishna appears to give the message of the Bhagavad-gita and to give a glimpse of His eternal pastimes so as to draw the attention of conditioned souls and attract them back home, back to Godhead.
2.Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to teach us how an ideal devotee of God should behave. He came to show that by the congregational chanting of the Holy Name, we can achieve the
highest goal of life— pure love of God.
3) Kalki Avatar will appear 4,27,000 years from now for the specific mission of physically destroying the demoniac people existing at that time and to inspire and deliver the pious that remain and start Satya Yuga.
Specific Markings on Hands and Feet of the Avatar
When Lord Krishna appeared, there were specific markings on His hands and feet that identified Him as an avatar. They were the markings of the flag, the trident, the elephant goad and the thunderbolt. Similarly when other incarnations appear they too have specific markings on their hands and feet that identify them as incarnations of God.
Types of Avatars
Please refer chapter 7 'Unlimited forms of Godhead' pages 81 to 93 of the book 'Teachings of Lord Caitanya' by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.